The U.S. Women’s National Team won its final game of the 2014 Algarve Cup, taking seventh place in the tournament with a 3-0 victory against Korea DPR on two goals from Abby Wambach and a late clincher from Heather O’Reilly.
The match marked O’Reilly’s 200th cap as she became the ninth female player in U.S. history to achieve that milestone. In those 200 games, she has been a direct part of 90 goals, scoring 40 and assisting on 50. She picked up her 50th assist in the USA’s previous match against Denmark on March 10.
The USA displayed a much more consistent attacking rhythm throughout the game than it achieved in previous matches, and while it didn’t produce a ton quality chances against an organized North Korea, the three goals all came from tremendous build-ups and featured quality finishes.
The first goal, which came in the 11th minute, was thing of beauty. A series of quick passes moved the ball from the left to the right wing, where Ali Krieger had space to cross from almost flush on the sideline. Her booming service flew over the last North Korea defender to the crashing Wambach at the far post, and she finished powerfully with a diving header.
North Korea knocked the ball around well, and threated with some excellent ball movement through the midfield, but the USA’s team defense, led by center backs Becky Sauerbrunn and Rachel Van Hollebeke and center midfielder Carli Lloyd, was stellar in its ball-winning. The USA limited Korea DPR to just two shots in the game, neither of which was on goal.
Wambach doubled the leaded in the 58th minute, but Lloyd was the catalyst, making a tremendous dribbling run into the left side of the box that featured power and skill. She was able to get all the way to the end line and cut a short pass back through a defender’s legs to Wambach, who had her back to the goal. In a moment of inspiration, with one sweeping motion, Wambach rolled the ball with the sole of her left foot and into the net from close range past the stunned North Korea goalkeeper.
The goals were the 166th and 167th of Wambach’s career as she continues to add to her world record. The brace also upped her total at the Algarve Cup to 21, the most for any U.S. player.
After some initial attacking pressure from North Korea early in the second half, the USA dominated the rest of the game, but didn’t get a clinching goal until two minutes remained.
O’Reilly, who had come on at halftime for Tobin Heath, was the recipient of another Lloyd assist. This one was made possible by Krieger, who slid to knock a pass to Lloyd in the right side of the penalty area. Lloyd then sent a hard cross on the ground through the goal mouth and a Wambach run to the near post drew several North Korea defenders and the goalkeeper, leaving O’Reilly wide open at the far post to finish from the door step.
Most of the U.S. players will now return home to begin their pre-season camps with their National Women’s Soccer League clubs, while several will head back to Europe to finish their European club campaigns. The second season of the NWSL kicks off on April 12.
The USA will be back in action next for two games against China PR on April 6 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo. (3 p.m. MT) and April 10 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego (8 p.m. PT, NBC Sports Network)
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